Women, when beyond the legs there are two or four wheels
We like to dispel myths, we like to discover stories and we like to tell them. Three names, three feats and a lowest common denominator: women, who can do anything. Elspeth, Michèle and Maria Grazia (known as Lella) share a passion for motors, a taste for adrenaline and a desire for freedom. Freedom to be themselves, far from stereotypes and from a society that still tries to relegate the female role exclusively to that of mother and wife. But do men's sports and women's sports really exist? Male passions and female passions?
Elspeth Beard: a motorbike and around the world.A twenty-four year old woman, a used BMW R 60/6 Boxer, a thousand pounds, no GPS and the world ahead. Literally the world, because Elspeth Beard sets off from New York with the aim of reaching the other end of the globe and thus completing The Big One. It is 1982 and Elspeth is a promising English architecture student with a passion for two wheels. A passion that leads her to buy a BMW R 60/6 Boxer, with more than 48,000 km in the engine, which immediately proves to be the perfect bike for what is her dream: to set off alone to find herself. Once the bike has been shipped to the Big Apple, the route is set to Canada, then down to Mexico and then Los Angeles. From California she sends the BMW to Sydney, while she makes a stopover on foot in New Zealand. In the Australian capital she stays about seven months, sleeps in a garage and works in an architecture studio. From there, once she has collected the necessary money, she resumes her journey to the west coast and in Perth boards her motorbike in the direction of Singapore. In Singapore, Elspeth is the victim of a theft that costs her money and all the documents she needs to travel: she is forced to stay in the country for six weeks. Not long afterwards, she is the victim of a car accident that causes a series of bruises and abrasions that do not prevent her from travelling again shortly afterwards. In Kathmandu she meets a Dutchman, Robert, a lone traveller also on board a BMW. The two continue their long journey together, encountering various difficulties: these are the years of the assault on the Golden Temple and the assassination of Indira Gandhi, and getting out of India proves more difficult than expected. She has finally found herself.
Michèle Mouton: the queen of rallies.A Frenchwoman born in 1951, Michèle approached the world of rallying as a navigator, participating first in the Tour de Corse and then in 1973 in the Monte Carlo Rally. She abandoned her law studies and devoted herself seriously to the sport, as a driver, in 1974, debuting in the Tour de Corse in an Alpine A110 1800. That same year, he participated in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with an all-female crew, finishing 21st and winning the class. 1977 marked her transition into the bigs: Fiat France offered her a contract thanks to which, driving a 131 Abarth, she won second place in the '79 French rally championship. It was in 1981, however, that the real breakthrough came. Audi decides to pair Michèle with champion Hannu Mikkola. The young driver did not disappoint and, with Turin-based Fabrizia Pons at her side, won the Sanremo Rally. A historic victory that gives them a rightful place among the greats of international rallying. The first victory of an all-female crew in a top rally. The Portugal Rally marks the turning point. Michèle dominates and wins 18 special stages and climbs to second place in the overall standings behind Walther Röhrl. She is the first Audi in the classification. In Greece, one of the toughest races in the entire world championship highlights the Frenchwoman's talents: the gruelling Acropolis Rally. In this marathon through stony ground and mule tracks, he does not let himself be discouraged and climbs the top step ahead of the Opels of Röhrl and the emerging Henri Toivonen. The fight for the world championship is rekindled and Mouton plays the role of first driver in the Audi house. In New Zealand, an oil pump failure stopped his race in the overall standings. She is not discouraged and in the next stage in Brazil she beats the competition by posting another resounding success. It is the last in the world championship of his incredible career. Audi did not plan to participate in the Ivory Coast Rally, both because of the prohibitive costs and because the Ivory Coast is only valid for the drivers' and not the constructors' world championship. Nevertheless, given Michèle's performance, the German giant decided to make the trip and give Mouton a chance to fight for the title right up to the last race. She dominated the first three fractions of the race, but after several mechanical problems, during the fourth and final fraction of the race, a bend in the fog caused the Frenchwoman's Audi to roll over. It is the end of the dream. Michèle Mouton, together with her navigator Fabrizia Pons, remain in the annals of history as the first women to have won four races in the World Rally Championship.
Lella Lombardi: the fastest girl in Formula 1Maria Grazia Lombardi, known as Lella, is the first and only Italian woman to win points in the Formula 1 World Championship. She was born in 1941 in Frugarolo, in the province of Alessandria. She began racing karts in the early 1960s, competing in the minor motorsport categories. Lella began to be noticed in the environment when he won the Italian Formula 850 championship in 1970. He had the opportunity to race F3s in the Italian and British series, while in 1974 he switched to F5000s. In the same year he made his debut in the Sportprototype World Championship and in F1 in the British GP with a Brabham, a race in which he did not finish. In '75 she made her debut in March for the F1 World Championship and with the new team managed to qualify for the South African GP, becoming the second woman in the history of Formula 1 (18 years after Maria Teresa de Filippis). In the second round in Spain - in a race that was suspended after several spectators were killed by a wing that flew into the crowd - Lombardi placed sixth and became the first, and for the moment only, driver able to win points in F1. Throughout the season Lella was slower than team-mate Vittorio Brambilla but faster than the German Hans-Joachim Stuck. The Circus is not the only commitment of the Piedmontese driver: paired with Frenchwoman Marie-Claude Beaumont at the wheel of a Renault-Alpine he debuts at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and brings home a sixth place at the 1000 km of Mugello and a fourth place at the 1000 km of Monza. In 1976 he debuts with a 16th place in Brazil and in the middle of the championship passes to the Brabham of the RAM team: he doesn't qualify neither in Great Britain nor in Germany but in Austria he arrives 12th doing better than his Swiss team-mate Loris Kessel. Lella left Formula 1 but continued to race in other categories: in 1977 she came third in the 250 km of Imola, competed in Daytona in a NASCAR round with Chevrolet, scoring points with a 31st place, while the following year she won the 6 Hours of Pergusa, the 6 Hours of Vallelunga and came third in the Interseries Division 2 championship. He raced for the last time at Le Mans in 1980 in tandem with Britain's Mark Thatcher (Margaret's son) and the following year he finished on the top step of the podium at the 6 Hours of Mugello and achieved the last 'top 3' finish of his career by taking second place at the 6 Hours of Pergusa. Lombardi then disputed two races in the German DTM touring car championship at Hockenheim in 1984, at the wheel of an Alfa Romeo GTV6, hanging up her helmet a few years later.